February 16, 2014 | Tom Suddes

“Championships Are Won on the Bus.”

“One of the great players in the NBA told me that championships are not won on the court.  They are won on the BUS.” 

Dick Costolo, Twitter CEO

What a great follow-up to Jim Collins’ BUS analogy.  (On.  Off.  Right Seats.)

Championships are won on the ‘BUS’.  Team chemistry.  Working together.  Even dreaded ‘team building’.  (Which, by the way, does not have to be an artificial exercise using three sticks, four leafs and some moss … to build a boat that will hold three people.)

The idea of team-bonding (on the Bus) certainly makes for more productivity, and more fun.

Note:  Our top BUS guy is our Senior Partner Steve Elder.  Team Leader/Sales Manager/Uber Coach who totally gets the whole BUS/TALENT thing.  I remember Steve telling me once that the ideal team for a project would fit in a minivan.  I think his point was if your project has more than 6-8 people … probably doomed from start.


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February 12, 2014 | Tom Suddes

“Oh, that’s the Red River?”

A short, fun story on forgiveness not permission. Zeb Pike was an American Brigadier General and Explorer. There’s a pretty big mountain in Colorado named after him.

The story goes that Pike was exploring the southern portion of the Louisiana Territory. The Red River was the boundary between the U.S. and Spanish/Mexican Territory. He was ‘exploring’ on the ‘wrong’ side of the Red River. He was captured by the Spanish while wondering around in what is present-day Colorado. Pike supposed response to his capture was:

“Oh, that’s the Red River?”

Pike’s accounting of the region drove the U.S. to secure Colorado and even California.

Personal Note: What I love about this story is that we have our Zeb Pike. Robb Pike is a Partner and Senior Coach with The Suddes Group. He has the same kind of adventurer/explorer attitude as his ancestor. Robb is always aggressively and positively pushing boundaries. And when called on it, answers (in his own way), “Oh, that’s the Red River?”

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February 11, 2014 | Tom Suddes

Philanthropy 50 Announced

CHRONICLE OF PHILANTHROPY just published Top Philanthropists for 2013.

Here’s the article and the list.

My quick takeaways:

  • For Impact orgs and development officers need to stop using the excuse of the ‘economy’. Gifts by living donors in 2013 equaled almost as much as the previous two years combined.
  • 97/3. 3% of your organization’s constituent/family/prospects will contribute/invest 97% of the money you raise.
    I believe that if every For Impact leader, social entrepreneur and development professional focused on that 3% … the third sector could triple the amount of investment it receives.
  • Just reading these stories should provide great optimism and inspiration. If you are a development professional, a valued board champion or CEO/Executive Director/leader in the third sector … you should take the time to read this.

Special Note: I just wrote out a huge rant about ‘FOUNDATIONS’. Then I tore it up. Life is too short.

However, I would pose this question:

Is anybody else bothered by the fact that the 10 most generous donors gave a total of $4B … and 5 of those donors gave $2.4M to FOUNDATIONS, not to actual IMPACT ORGANIZATIONS???

  • #1: Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan made an almost $1B commitment to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation.
  • #2: George Mitchell’s bequest was to the Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation.
  • #5: John and Laura Arnold gave $235M to their foundation.
  • #9: Sergey Brin and Anne Wojcicki. $219M to their foundation.
  • #10: Jeffrey Carlton’s bequest of $212M to a trust that will eventually become his charitable foundation.

Compare that to Philip and Penelope Knight who gave $500M to impact Oregon Health and Science. Or, Michael Bloomberg who actually gave away $452M directly to Arts, Education, Environment and Public Health ‘Nonprofits’. Charles Johnson pledged $250M to Yale to actually build something (2 new residential colleges). Pierre and Pam Omidyar gave $225M directly to four organizations.

I’m not the brightest guy around. Obviously, I’m missing something. I just don’t understand putting huge sums of money into a ‘FOUNDATION’ … which then gives away 5% interest off the corpus.

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February 10, 2014 | Tom Suddes

Why Mindfulness Is the Antidote to Multitasking

I saw this over the weekend. My (last?) thought on last week’s theme of FOCUS.

“Research into success indicates that we’re expanding our skills the most when we’re deeply immersed in a difficult, demanding task–the feeling of FLOW you get from constructing a new algorithm, perfecting a pitch deck, or prototyping a product.

But that feeling of FLOW can only happen when we’ve fully invested our attention.”

Here’s the article in Fast Company, Why Mindfulness is the Antidote to Multitasking. I’ve captured the guts in the quote above.

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February 7, 2014 | Tom Suddes

Busyness and the Workaholic Badge of Honor

To close out this week’s thoughts on FOCUS:

  • “71% of people believe they would become more productive if they FOCUSED more on top priorities at the expense of lower priorities.”  (However) “Over half of the same group believe they would simultaneously lose respect from their peers and their boss.” 
    This comes from Nick Tasler, HBR blogger, author and CEO of Global Consulting and Training Company in IT’S TIME TO PUT YOUR STRATEGY ON A DIET. He opens with David Packard’s quip: “More companies die from overeating than starvation.”  Tasler has four lessons that are certainly worth the read.
  • “The essence of strategy is choosing what NOT to do?”  This comes from Michael Porter, strategy guru of all gurus.  Again, this becomes a huge part of FOCUS … deciding what NOT to do!
  • And, finally, a terrific article from the New York Times on THE ‘BUSY’ TRAP.  This wonderful post by Tim Kreider is so good that I sent it to my family.  Urge you to take a moment from your “crazy busy” day/schedule to read this.  It’s geared towards parenting and children … but huge application to our professional lives.
    Here’s the last line:

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February 7, 2014 | Kerry Suddes

2014 Sales Boot Camp: ‘Super Early Bird’ Opportunity

Join us on June 17th and 18th at Eagle Creek (our beautiful 50-acre headquarters) to explore the For Impact Point of View and Sales Process. 

Our Sales Boot Camp is focused on frameworks and skill building – You will leave with the the knowledge you need to simplify your message and funding rationale and take your organization to the next level.

This one time per year opportunity is perfect for organizational alums, new hires or anyone looking to hone their individual skills –  a great personal and professional development opportunity!

Sales Boot Camp is a high-energy, two-day session focused on:

  • How to execute against a sales process (for major gifts, campaign gifts, transformational gifts, etc)
  • How to build and maximize relationships
  • How to build and lead an effective team
  • How to ask, close and follow-up

Register before February 18th to take advantage of Super Early Bird Pricing!

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February 7, 2014 | Tom Suddes

This Sunday, February 9th, Marks the 50th Anniversary of the Beatles Performing on the Ed Sullivan Show in New York!

I was one of the estimated 73 million Americans who tuned in to watch the show. It was the Fab Four’s first visit to the United States.

No real point to this post … except that it’s hard to believe it’s been 50 years.

Special Note: I also remember there was a guy on the show that night spinning six plates on sticks. I sometimes use that as a great example of time to balance our lives. Still not sure how he did it.

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February 6, 2014 | Tom Suddes


Yesterday, Microsoft announced Satya Nadella as its next CEO, the third in the company’s history. Almost every article I have read on this so far mentioned that his primary and immediate objective is around FOCUS.  (For Microsoft, it looks like it means mobile and cloud … to “empower people to do amazing things”.

Here is his first letter to the all of the employees if you haven’t seen it.  Gotta love this quote: “I am here because we have unparalleled capability to make an IMPACT.”

When Steve Jobs went back to Apple after the Sculley disaster, his primary objective was also around FOCUS.  He cut 29 products to 4!  (Should have been 3, but still …)

When Larry Page returned to the top job at Google in 2011, he said, “Ever since taking over as CEO, I have FOCUSED much of my energy on increasing Google’s VELOCITY and EXECUTION.”  Again, a simple focus.

Jim Collins explains the Power of Focus with his ‘hedgehog’ concept.  In GOOD TO GREAT, his idea of FOCUS is doing one thing and doing it well.  He uses the parable of the clever, devious fox and the simple hedgehog.  Fox keeps coming up with new ideas to eat the hedgehog, but the hedgehog always responds with the same thing:  Rolling into a thorny ball.

Peter Drucker and Tom Peters have both used the term ‘monomaniacs with a mission’ to explain the success of single-minded and focused individuals. They both talk about individuals and small groups who through extreme focus, resolve and passion have had an impact way out of proportion to their size.


Here are 3 books that can be a great resource to help you with this challenge of FOCUS.

  • THE POWER OF FOCUS.  Great book by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen (of Chicken Soup fame) and Les Hewitt.
    Simple summary:  The #1 reason that stops people from getting what they want is a LACK OF FOCUS.  People who FOCUS on what they want, prosper.  Those who don’t, struggle.
    Special Note.  Some really, really, really great stuff in here on ASK for what you want.
  • SOAR WITH YOUR STRENGTHS.  There have been a ton of great books out lately on FOCUS ON YOUR STRENGTHS.  This was my first exposure to this concept in 1992 by Donald Clifton and Paula Nelson.  Clifton was the Founder and Chairman of SRI Gallop.  The books lead off with the greatest story ever about FOCUSING ON STRENGTHS, called Animal School.  Best and simplest nugget:  Pick one strength and pursue it.
    Note:  Shane Parrish in Farnam Street blog mentioned Warren Buffet’s Mental Model around Circle of Competence.  Basically, Buffet says that if you stay in your Circle of Competence (what you know), you will achieve success.
  • THE ONE THING.  Great book by Gary Keller, Chairman of the Board and Co-Founder of Keller Williams Realty, largest real estate company in the United States.  Simple summary is focusing on the ONE THING creates huge exponential success. For more.



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February 3, 2014 | Tom Suddes


Synchronicity or serendipity?

Just reading my ROTMAN MANAGEMENT, (the Magazine of Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto). The Winter 2014 edition is all about METACOGNITION … or ‘THINKING ABOUT THINKING’.

There was a great Thought Leader interview with Daniel Goleman who just published FOCUS: THE HIDDEN DRIVER OF EXCELLENCE.

Here is the article link. Some really good stuff on the importance of FOCUS.

Then, today, got my January book notes from Jim Mahoney at Battle for Kids. Yep. The book is: Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence!

Here are Jim’s wonderful book notes.

FOCUS is being like a laser … not a blow torch or a flame thrower.

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January 31, 2014 | Tom Suddes


Note:  I was with five different groups this week … speaking, training, coaching.  At every gathering, somebody or multi-bodies came up and said, “Thank you for giving me PERMISSION for _________.”  That triggered this post.


  • And, I give you PERMISSION to BE FOR IMPACT!

I also give you PERMISSION to use all of our FRAMEWORKS, IDEAS, NUGGETS … to help you FUND THE VISION of your organization.

FWIW.  I also give you PERMISSION to take care of YOURSELF!  Family.  Personal and Professional Development.  Taking your ‘birthdate’ off every month.

SPECIAL NOTE:  Many of you have a Social Entrepreneur mindset:  You ask for FORGIVENESS not PERMISSION … now you can have both.

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